Friday, December 31, 2004

Economics and geography are bitches

Trip planning is tough when:

  • The person you're planning the trip with is in another city

  • Neither of you has a car

  • Neither of you can really afford to rent a car for an extended period of time

  • All the car rental places in town require renters to be at least 25, and you aren't

And thus I have no plans for New Year's Eve.

If you were wondering, Greg and I had an idea to spend New Years in Kingston. The idea was I'd rent a car here in Ottawa, pick him up in Markham, drive to Kingston. Sometime after the hangovers, we'd come up to Ottawa and race each other along the Rideau Canal, and then I'd drive him back to Markham, and return to Ottawa.

Looking back it's not a very good plan. So much driving for very little purpose. Oh well, it was an idea, and it's still better than my plans now.

Lately I've been going into m,y kitchen a different way that normal. There's a door off the hallway and one off the dinign room, and I normally go in the hallway door. Lately I've been going through the dining room door, and I have no clue why. Even as I'm doing it I wonder why I didn't use the other door. It's a bit like this, in that even if I try to not do it, I still do it.

And with that I'm craving pancakes.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

I am invulnerable

I went to bed feeling like I was coming down with the flu. No doubt it got in based on my complete lack of nutrition yesterday, but that's beside the point. I was dizzy, my stomach was queasy, all the classic signs of illness.

I woke up feeling perfect.

My immune system is a finely-tuned death machine.

I have to go get ready, my parents are taking me out to buy some skates.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

A triumph for the food industry

I managed to go all of today eating nothing but empty calories. Chocolates, chips, cookies, and a couple of nuts was all I had to eat today. I don't think I consumed a single nutrient all day. Woo.

No meat, no vegetables, nothing but processed sugar, fat, and salt. I am a model consumer.

Happy end of December!

Christmas was a success. I wound up with a lava lamp, a digital camera, and more cookies than I know what to do with. There's more, but those are the standouts.

Figures, as soon as I have a camera I suddenly have no idea what to take pictures of. Before I had the camera, I'd see awesome pictures everywhere, now, nothing. Does writer's block translate into photography?

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Official beginning of the holiday season

I just finished cleaning the house. My parents are flying into Ottawa tonight, and in anticipation of their visit I cleaned the kitchen and my bathroom. I'm thinking about straightening up my room, but it's still pretty clean. Maybe I'll do something with these extra keyboards and mice that I'm not using.

Seems the only time I ever really clean up is when my mother is coming to where I live. As a result, I use her Christmas visit cleanup as my official gauge of when the holidays start. The start of the holidays is usually the day I leave to go to my grandma's, so really the cleanup is mostly unnecessary.

And yet I do it every year.

This will likely be my last post until after Christmas.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Scrabble Notebook Comic

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The text got cut off, but it says "Come on, start the game already"

I love Scrabble, but sometimes your letters can make you homicidal. This is the extreme of that.

Don't bother pointing out how crappy the board looks, I drew it freehand. I know the squares are misaligned.

What I did today

My brother brought home a box of keyboards for me to test out, to see if they worked. They all did, and I liked one so much I think I'm going to try to keep it. It's an old Compaq, and it must weigh at least 6 pounds. It's heavy and nice to type on. I already wrote a bit on it, finally getting started on writing down a few of my ideas. If I get something decent together I'll post an excerpt of it on here, but don't hold your breath.

I'm also sketching some ideas for what might someday become a comic strip. Currently my art supplies include a small notebook and some pens. Thankfully those suit me just fine, so possibly sometime in the future I'll have something resembling a creative output.

People don't mind reading comics on lined paper, do they? :P

In the bottom of the box of keyboards was a small metal rod, so I now have it mounted on top of my second monitr as a miniature Festivus pole. I don't know if it's made of aluminum or not, but I'm willing to deviate from tradition a little bit.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Call me Oqitrajal

Oqitrajal Tesebayaul to be precise.

Greg and I had a game of Scrabble where we decided to use our entire rack on every turn and not bother making real words. As the game progressed, I noticed that a lot of the words would make awesome names. As a result, I now answer to Oqitrajal Tesebayaul, and Greg now answers to Fowabryoka Zasyceehov.

If I ever get into serious role playing, I know what my character's name will be, but for now it's just for fun.

It's pronounced Oak-i-tra-jul Tess-uh-bay-yall, if you're curious.

No news, but I now have my brother and Margot on the Scrabble bandwagon. Come on and join our convoy, nothing gonna get in our way.

Friday, December 17, 2004

How to make life worth living

A simple guide to eternal happiness.

Free online Scrabble

My user name is Scottv7. Look me up in the game, and we'll do battle with our vocabularies.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Scenes from a mall, shaking, and covered in hats

I took the bus to the Rideau Centre yesterday. For those not familiar with Ottawa, that's the biggest mall in the city. It's 3 floors, connected to the westin, and is normally crammed full of freaks. I was looking for a Christmas present for my mother, and I already knew what I wanted, so it was a pretty easy trip.

Things went well, there were much fewer freaks hanging around than normal, and the mall wasn't too busy at all. However, the general absense of people made it easier to focus on something else.

Christmas music pumped through the sound system.

I think today's Ctrl+Alt+Del describes my feelings on Christmas music. Unless it's a novelty song, those are tolerable in small doses.

You can call me a humbug, or scrooge, or whatever, but before you do, answer one question. When did constant irritation become part of the yuletide tradition?

In equally annoying news, my second monitor has developed a tremble. It's randomly shaking, and it makes it really tough to read, because the wavy picture makes me feel sick. It looks like something is interfering with it, but it just started last night after supper, so I have no idea what's causing it. We haven't gotten anything new in the past week, and there are no more devices than normal turned on, so if it is interference it's coming from somewhere else.

I just hope the monitor isn't failing. I've really gotten used to the dual monitor setup, and I don't think I can handle going back to one full time.

In happier news, I'm once again addicted to putting Santa hats on old video game and cartoon characters. In the past week I've put one on Wood Man, and a hat and a little Christmas tree on Astro Boy. I did some tricky things with perspective and space in those ones. Wood Man's hat goes behind the twig sticking out of his head, and Astro Boy's hat is waving in the wind.

These two go with the Don Flamenco I made last year, and the Bad Dudes intro screen guy I made at the beginning of the month. I also made one for Greg by putting a santa hat on that picture of George Bush as a muslim (you might have seen it online, if not, it's not really worth searching for).

No updates on the Great Mouse Driver Search.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

I have a mouse

My brother gave me a mouse he got in a box of computer parts at work. It's a monstrosity: 3 buttons on the top, a wheel, and a button on the side. It's the ugliest thing I've ever seen, and the wheel feels completely wrong (it rolls continuously, not in increments like modern wheels).

I plugged it in, and it works, for the most part. The three buttons on top work, but the wheel and side button don't. I figure it's because it's using the Windows standard mouse driver, which only allows for 3 buttons. I've been looking for a driver for this beast for a while now, and none seem to exist.

It's a Mouse Systems Scroll Mouse (combo). MSC part number 404252-001, FCC ID FSUGMZFA.

Mouse Systems appears to have gone out of business in 1987, which could explain why I'm having so much trouble finding drivers for this thing. I've found drivers for a few other Mouse Systems products, so I have hope.

Any ideas on other places to look? Got the driver I need? Want to laugh at me for searching for drivers for hardware that's nearly 20 years old? Go right ahead and tell me.

Monday, December 13, 2004

How to add links to your Blogger sidebar

I'm going to borrow a bit from the Blogger help section to put this up, but it's a fairly easy procedure. It uses HTML, so if you don't understand it, just rest assured that it will work if you type it up properly. (using one of the first things I learned in computer science here, don't bother understanding why it works, just do it)

Wherever there's an HTML tag, it goes in angle brackets < >. If I type those in here, Blogger will put the tag into my post, so I won't be able to type them in. Instead I'll be using regular brackets ( ). So when you're doing your own links, replace all my brackets with angle brackets, and you'll be golden.

First off, you'll need to be in your Blogger settings. You can get there from the Dashboard, or by just clicking on your blog name when you log in. From there click on the Template tag.

You should see a text box full of code. It'll probably all be gibberish to you, but that's what makes your blog look like it does. Don't mess with it, just scroll through it until you see a heading that says (!--begin #sidebar). It'll have the sections for your recent posts and archives. Underneath all those, write a new header that says "Links" or whatever you want it to say. You should put in the same (h#) tag that appears on the other sections. This will turn it into a header, and give it the same size, boldness, and spacing as the sections that already there. For my template it's an (h2) tag, but yours might be different. Make sure you close this tag (/h2) or else everything will be written as a header. The bigger the number in the (h#) tage, the smaller the header. You have (h1) through (h6) to choose from.

After that's done, you just need to start a list with the (ul) tag, then make a list element, (li), for each link. For the links themselves, you'll need to use the HTML code (a href="")Link Name(/a), then close the list element, (/li). If you want your link to open in a new window like mine do, put target="_blank" in the (a) tag after the address. So that would be (a href=" target="_blank)Link Name(/a). The underscore before blank is very important, so don't forget it.

Add as many links as you want, making each a list element with the (li) and (/li) tags, and when you're done, close the list with the (/ul) tag.

So, as an example, here's what you should have if you're following my directions to the letter.

(li)(a href="" target="_blank")Link Name(/a)(/li)

And there's your links section. Don't forget to change the brackets to angle brackets.

If you want to put in a link to send you email, use (a href="")Email(/a).

Before you save your template, make sure you preview it to check for tags you might have missed or forgotten to close. The preview will look funny (all the text will be too big), but don't worry about it, it'll look right when you save it.

This post is dedicated to Margot and Greg, both of whom asked about this.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Small news

I added a section for posts that I get good responses to. Tooting my own horn, yes, but if people say they like a certain post, I'll bet other people will like it too.

I didn't choose these ones solely because of comments they got, but also by people telling me msn how much they liked it.

I kinda wonder how many people read this.

Friday, December 10, 2004

The cover letter I should have used

I'm recycling a lot of this post (I think in creative circles they refer to it as "phoning it in"), but I think it's worth it. Some of my readers will already have seen this, but for the rest of you, well, read it.

I give to you the cover letter I wrote but didn't use for obvious reasons:

Hi there,

I don’t know if you’re hiring, but I’m sending you my resume anyway. Why? Because I know that as soon as you read it you will create a job for me.

As my resume clearly shows, I am awesome. I’m better than awesome. I make awesome look like crap. I can do absolutely anything with computers. I can build them, program them, keep them running nicely, upgrade them with the latest hardware and software, network them, and make them dance.

When it comes to programming, I can perform any job in the software creation process. I can design the algorithms, decide how the project should be done, write the code, test the results, and write the documentation.

These qualifications would meet the requirements for anything from IT help desk monkey to application architect. I can do anything.

I will call your HR department tomorrow to find out where my office is.

Glad to be on board,

New stuff:

I got a rejection letter from CJOH. I think all my current readers know that that's a TV station here in Ottawa, but if not, then you know now. It's a very nice letter. Good, firm paper, nice printing, and a signature that's written in a really cool shade of blue. I'm kind of surprised my resume even made it to their HR department, so this rejection is an accomplishment for me.

I applied for 4 jobs at Research in Motion today. They make the Blackberry, and I've been sending them resumes for almost a year now. Eventually they have to send me good news, right?

Here's hoping HTML tags work in blogger posts.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004


The fear of open spaces. This is relevant.

I cleaned my room today. Cleared off almost an entire desk, and most of my floor. I put books into bookshelves, got all my clothes put away, found a place to put the laptop when I'm not using it, and cleaned out my records folder. Why was I saving 3 year old phone bills?

I still haven't gotten pictures or posters up on the walls. I keep meaning to go get some of those stick-on picture hooks because I don't want to put holes in the walls, but I keep forgetting to. Maybe some day...

I can't get over how much room I have in here now.

Monday, December 06, 2004

I love you like a fat kid loves cake

The job hunt is in full swing. I put in resumes at 13 different places today. I covered a wide range of companies, from software firms to network companies to broadcasting. Got a lot of good leads, and some of the people I talked to really went above and beyond.

I'd like to give company names and specifics, but I probably shouldn't, to protect the innocent.

The receptionist at one major company told us about another, smaller, company in the same building, and offered to give our resumes to the HR director there. Steve and I didn't even know that this other company was there, and it didn't seem like she told a lot of people about it (I got that from the way she brought it up, it didn't sound practiced at all, very genuine). If you ever read this, I'm very sorry that I can't remember your name, you deserve to be mentioned.

The most promising lead I got was at a small home automation firm, where I had a mini interview on the spot, and the guy there said "wow" in regards to my resume. He said that he didn't have any openings right away, but he has some big projects coming up in the next 2 months, and I have a good feeling about it. I walked out of there feeling like a million bucks. In gold. Crusted with diamonds. Covered in chocolate.

Some places I feel good about applying to, others I don't think I have too much of a shot at, but I feel a lot better about everything than I did last week.

Steve's been giving me some good advice, including wearing a suit every time you go in to hand in a resume. Never underestimate the power a suit has. If you walk into a palce wearing one, people are going to decide you're successful, and then treat you that way. You can be the most unqualified bum in the world, but if you look good and feel good, people will respect you. They call it a power suit for a reason.

When I got home from putting in all these resumes I noticed a missing word in my cover letter. After some cursing (actually a lot fo cursing) I fixed it. Hopefully none of the places I went to today will notice.

Have to send out some soft copies of my resume, so I better do that before it gets too late.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

My life is over

John McEnroe's show got cancelled. I think this post from the Fark thread about it sums it up best: "Well, that show certainly didn't suck. And it did not insult the intelligence of normal people. And it definitely did not assume that just because a person was famous that he would have something to say. And McEnroe did not have a boring personality when he wasn't smashing rackets. I don't get it." (apologies to monty666 for stealing your entire post to cover my own lack of creativity on this matter).

Can you feel the sarcasm oozing out of that one? I can, and it feels good.

Happy trails Mr. McEnroe. May your next project not be the worst show on TV.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Tis the season for Bad Dudes

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Change of plans

We're not going out to Kanata after all. This gives me some time to get everything done nicely, so I guess it's for the best


Tomorrow Steve and I are sending out resumes to every IT company in Kanata. I spent most of today redoing my resume and trying to write a cover letter. As of 2:00 AM, the resume was probably as good as it was going to get, and the cover letter still needs some work. I ahve a good middle, but my salutation and opening paragraph are still kind of lousy.

Regardless, tomorrow is the day. I'm getting up early to finish the letter, then printing, then delivering.

I know every site on the internet says to tailor the cover letter to the job, but I'm not applying for a specific job, and there's no way I'm going to be able to learn the name of every human resources director in this city to have a custom cover letter for each of them.

Just a quick update on my stuff, I'll tell you how it went after I get back tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Jumping through hoops

I felt good for a while today. Steve and I went cruising around town scouting out potential places to work, and I got a good lesson on breaking into the business world. Lessons on power suits, power colours, the importance of a nice business folio, the reason to avoid having white paper in that folio, and the fact that my resume is a piece of garbage.

I felt like I could get a job anywhere after a bit of resume tweaking, so I came home and looked up some resume tips on the internet.

Good mood: shattered.

From one site I checked: "To write an effective resume, you have to learn how to write powerful but subtle advertising copy."

If I could write powerful but subtle advertising copy, I'd be in advertising making a 6 figure salary, not looking for a low- to mid-level software job. Do employers really expect everybody looking for a job to be an expert copy writer? And if they don't, then why is this even a resume tip?

From another site: " Don't waste your money on special bond paper, matching envelopes, or any color deviances away from plain white. Your resume will be photocopied, faxed, and scanned numerous times, defeating any special paper efforts, assuming your original resume doesn't first end up in the circular file."

So in other words, don't get fancy because they're probably just going to throw out your resume. Good. Great. Grand. Wonderful.

There was another site with a section on "relabeling", where you take an old job title and make it sound more important than it was. Apparently it's "completely truthful", it's just more powerful. I wasn't a furniture mover, I was a transportation and storage professional working on a large military contract.

You know, that one actually does make sense.

Okay, on to cover letters. I've never been able to write a good cover letter. I consider this to be my one great failing in life. I can string together a good story about just about anything, but I can't write about myself. Well, this blog might prove otherwise, but I'm not always very complimentary to myself in this thing. I can't write about myself in a completely positive light. I don't have the ego for it.

One sample cover letter I read ended: "I will call your office on Monday to schedule an interview".

Who has the nerve to actually say that?

I think if I ever want to get a good job I'm going to have to develop an ego, artificially inflate my resume (it's not lying, it's more powerful), and make sure my power pen matches my power suit.